|Richard Watts. The Three Seasons exhibit (installation view)|
at the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie, Ontario, Canada. 2012
On the wall: Shield Kimono Spirit Catching Thunderbird.
In the foreground: Canoe Shedding Skin.
Richard Watts makes impressions.
His process involves covering derelict structures — especially boats — or ancient rock faces or old growth trees, with natural rubber and gauze. Dressing them, like wounds. Wrapping them like mummies. Then peeling the rubber layering off; revealing them like bodies, like flesh.
In the wrapping is the art, taking from each object, as it does, an exact impression of its texture. The marks of the boat’s making, its origins; the scars of its experience. Stealing, too, some of the actual surface. Old paint, splinters, leaves, bits of rust and debris. The accretions of time and place; of creation and purpose and decay. Its skin. Its materiality.
Watts is creating a record. A memory. A shroud.
A relic and a reliquary.
|Richard Watts. Boat Skin. Rubber, gauze, peeled paint.|
Photo by Yuri Dojc.
The shrouds are empty. By and in their presence, they speak of absence. Of immanence and transcendence.
Lifted up and exalted, lit as if from within. Evoking the Thunderbird of First Nations’ truth, or the cross of the Christians. In vessels. In triptychs and trinities. Evoking passages; travels, journeys.
Here, and between worlds.
|Richard Watts. Canoe People Triptych. Rubber and gauze. 2011.|
|Richard Watts. Summer Boat Skin. Rubber and gauze.|